There will be no Democrat on the ballot for the United States Senate seat held by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR).
The Democratic Party of Arkansas said Monday that the only candidate who filed for the party’s nomination, Josh Mahony, withdrew two hours after the Tuesday, November 12 filing deadline.
"After exhaustive and careful examination with our legal counsel and our party leaders and without additional information from Mr. Mahony, the Democratic Party of Arkansas will not be able to field a candidate for United States Senate," said Chairman Michael John Gray.
"The narrow legal window to replace Mr. Mahony as our nominee would require evidence that has not been provided to us publicly or privately.”
Mahony said on his Twitter account that he withdrew from the campaign because a family member, whom he did not identify, was not well.
There was not explanation as to what Mahony knew about the family illness before the filing deadline expired, as opposed to two hours after it ended.
The Democratic Party said in a statement that it was not contacted by Mahony prior to the withdrawal announcement. The statement said under Arkansas law, parties are allowed to replace candidates for nomination when a candidate withdraws due to death or a serious illness.
“That meant that we were operating under that section of the law that addresses replacement due to a serious illness. To determine if we had sufficient legal footing to rely on that section of the law, we needed more information from Mahony. In that pursuit, a member of the DPA staff contacted Mahony on Friday, November 15. The DPA staff member asked Mahony if he could come to a meeting at the DPA on Monday, November 18 at 10:30 a.m. The purpose of that meeting was only to gain greater insight into the reason for Mahony’s withdrawal. Mahony stated that he would attend the meeting.
“Later that Friday evening, Chairman Gray and legal counsel to the DPA, Annie Depper, received a letter from attorney Mark Henry. A copy of that letter is attached to this press release. Mr. Henry stated in the letter that he represented Mahony, that Mahony withdrew due to family health concerns, and that all communication was be directed to him. The following day, Saturday, Ms. Depper reached out to Mr. Henry and asked if there was a good time that Mr. Henry could discuss the issue. Mr. Henry did not respond to Ms. Depper’s request.
On Monday, November 18 at 10:30 a.m., the meeting that Mahony confirmed he would attend took place. State party officials were at the meeting, but Mahony decided not attend.
“Again, the purpose of that meeting was to gain more insight into Mahony’s withdrawal. It was important to have a full understanding of the reasons behind the withdrawal before deciding on the correct path forward. Unfortunately, Mahony chose not to attend that meeting. At the meeting, these individuals were made aware of all information known to the DPA as of that date.
“With that information, the party leaders decided to make one final attempt to get information from Mahony. They directed Ms. Depper to correspond with attorney Mark Henry, requesting additional information. That afternoon, Ms. Depper sent a letter to Mr. Henry requesting more information on the family health concerns.
“Mr. Henry did not respond to Ms. Depper’s request. To date, the only additional information received by the DPA from Mahony or his attorney is information contained in newspaper articles.
“It is unfortunate that Mahony has chosen to cease communications with the DPA. In order for the DPA to proceed with fielding a candidate for the U.S. Senate race, Mahony’s cooperation is essential. The Republican Party of Arkansas has stated multiple times that if we choose to field a candidate, they will bring a legal challenge. Currently, other than brief statements made by Mahony regarding a ‘family health concern,’ the DPA has no evidence to support a claim of serious illness. Without something more than Mahony’s statements, we cannot move forward,” the statement said.
Sen. Cotton is seeking re-election to a second six-year term.
Cotton will have opposition on next November’s general election ballot.
Ricky Dale Harrington Jr., 34, of Pine Bluff was the only candidate filing for the Libertarian Party nomination for the U.S. Senate. Harrington, a Christian missionary, is expected to be formally nominated by the party at a meeting in February.
Dan Whitfield of Bella Vista has filed to run as an independent candidate for the U.S. Senate.
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